Vinyl Vlog 582

Vinyl Vlog 582

Tuesday, 06 December 2022

Joe Strummer 002
The Mescaleros Years
7LP Box Set

It’s strange to think how Joe Strummer’s music is essential, considering his output isn’t exactly large. Or maybe it’s just right and easy to grasp, which is what makes it easier to reckon with. As far as the Clash is concerned, that music is just required listening and everyone should be familiar with it. Yes, all of it, including Cut the Crap. The Clash’s music has withstood the test of time and there are numerous compilations to introduce their catalog to listeners. Not so with Joe Strummer, even though the man never stopped writing music. Years ago, the Joe Strummer 001 box set was released and it cast a wide net over the non-Clash material the man was responsible for throughout his life. It literally handpicked songs from any music Joe was involved with that didn’t include the Clash name, and that apparently included the Clash 2.0. 001 also collected extensive one-shot releases for compilations or soundtracks and had a whole disc of unreleased demos and previously unheard material. According to the curator of these box sets, there’s a treasure trove of unreleased stuff Joe left behind.

After leaving the Clash, Joe Strummer became a wildcard, musically. He’s not much of a musician, but more of a front man: a great vocalist and lyricist able to provide rhythm guitar and a healthy dose of energy to a song. It’s good to note that Strummer worked best with a partner and that he basically added to whatever was presented to him. Maybe the best representation of his post-Clash work is the Mescaleros. With this band, Joe released the most consistent focused work and it would be easy for simplicity’s sake to mark this band as the third and final noteworthy musical part of his career. Joe Strummer 002’s main focused is this period of his life.

This box set contains the entire Mescaleros Years, including Rock Art and the X-Ray Style, Global a Go-Go and Screetcore LPs. Though all three of these releases stand on their own, it’s maybe Global a Go-Go that has the most complete and developed concepts. On this release, the Mescaleros had learned how to write and play together and could expand on the experiment that was X-Ray style. This is undoubtedly the highlight. The bittersweet release has to be Streetcore, released after Joe’s death, and completed without his input. It’s clearly a fragmented release, but also contains the strongest songs he’s written in decades and makes one wonder what the completed Streetcore would have sounded like. Finally, I love demos and 002 contains a plethora of demos and other b-sides. These have been wonderfully remastered and do what a good demos compilation should do: they sound strong on their own and are obvious prototypes for the final versions that made it on the albums.

Joe Strummer 002 is a God-sent for Clash and Joe Strummer fans and one wonders where (if?) Joe Strummer 003 will go. Will it collect the “Wilderness Years”? These demos are certainly interesting and relevant enough to warrant a deeper dive into the man’s unfinished music shelf. Regardless, this box set serves Joe Strummer right and reminds us that he was in the middle of a new musical chapter in his life before he ascended to the heavens. Yet another essential release for fans of the man.

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